HE’S an unusual but beloved pet who’s helped a school community in many ways, but Rocco the bearded dragon is missing after a break-in.
Somerton Public School’s students and staff hope the person who took him will have a change of heart after the weekend theft, which also included thousands of dollars worth of electronics.
Principal Kylie Lacey said Rocco had a special connection with children with special needs, had taught students responsibility and had even helped her with a reptile phobia.
“I don’t know why the person who’s done this has done it, but at the end of the day they’ve taken something away from children,” she said.
Ms Lacey said the break-in had been “very upsetting” for the students, but the worst part was Rocco’s theft.
“One of our families organised for us to have Rocco; he has been a beloved pet at our school and has taught the children responsibility,” she said.
“They did a lot of research on bearded dragons and knew exactly how to look after him: how to make sure the temperature stayed right in his enclosure, how to cut up his vegetables for his food ...
“He has served a great purpose for some of our children with needs, who are very responsive to him thanks to that very special bond that animals and children have.
“Although Rocco’s a lizard, he’s very tame – he was bred in captivity, and the children could all get him out and pick him up, play with him and pat him, cuddle and kiss him.”
Ms Lacey said Rocco had even helped her with a fear.
“I am afraid of reptiles, but I can see the value in the kids being able to have something like that … I improved with my fear of lizards, but the kids just loved him.
“We’d walk in every morning and there he’d be in his enclosure – bright as a button under his UV heat light.”
Laptops, cash, underwear also taken
Oxley police said offenders broke into the school between 10pm on Friday and 7am on Saturday by removing a flyscreen and forcing open a window.
Once inside, they ransacked six rooms in the school and took off with the yellow bearded dragon, and a black enclosure with lights and a heat lamp worth $800.
Police said offenders also stole a 50-inch LG black television, five Lenovo Thinkpad laptops, a Hewlett Packard laptop in a black case and a Ryobi cordless drill.
They also took stationery, a small amount of cash, clapsticks, groceries, children’s underwear and a Sherlock trolley.
Forensic police have combed the crime scene for clues and are appealing for witnesses.
“It’s in the hands of the police and they’ve been fast and really helpful,” Ms Lacey said.
“We’re trying to just get on with things as usual here today.”